Chelsea’s Spanish schemer takes a rise in our weekly refresh of the Watchlist rankings, though Rafa Benitez’s rotation dents the prospects of their new man up front. Arsenal’s kind run of fixtures keeps them in our thoughts following on from the double, while Sunderland’s new-found thirst for goals also plays a significant part in our update. As always, you can view our current standings in the sidebar on the right and read on for the details behind the recent movements and the factors at play behind our thinking.
Wojciech Szczesny retains his top spot, courtesy of three home games in the following four as Arsenal prepare to welcome Liverpool, Stoke and Villa to the Emirates. Simon Mignolet is close on the Pole’s heels in second – one clean sheet in four has somewhat dented his appeal, though he continues to offer the most obvious and secure route into Sunderland’s backline.
Asmir Begovic is a non-mover in third. While Stoke’s recent poor defensive form has seen him beaten 13 times in his previous four, the Bosnian is afforded three favourable home games (WIG, REA, WHM) in the next five to cement his place at the top of the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) keeper standings. With Tony Pulis still uncertain over a return date for Marc Wilson and Andy Wilkinson missing out last weekend due to a recurrence of a back problem, we’re currently without an obvious budget alternative in the Potters defence.
Michel Vorm takes a step up our Watchlist rankings. The Swansea stopper has been beaten just four times in five matches since returning from injury – Vorm may have three away games in the next four but his owners will be undeterred; the Welsh club have the best defensive record on the road, conceding just nine times. Ben Davies’ form is the only downside to acquiring the Dutchman, however, with the left-back’s budget appeal and attacking returns likely to deter many from investing in the Swans’ goalkeeper.
Jussi Jaaskelainen remains in the mix – West Ham’s next three (ful, SWA, avl) look prosperous, with the Finnish international offering the security of save points to fall back on should his side concede, while Adam Federici and Mark Bunn are our preferred budget stoppers in light of their respective schedules.
Leighton Baines returns to the top of the pile thanks to back-to-back clean sheets in the past couple of Gameweeks. Everton seem to have rediscovered their resilience once again and with spot-kick and set-piece duties in his locker, Baines’ double figure haul at Newcastle in Gameweek 21 served a reminder of his propensity to pick up points at both ends of the pitch. With two favourable home fixtures to come, including a clash with Villa – a side so vulnerable to set-piece delivery, Baines looks strong in the short-term.
United’s favourable run of upcoming fixtures earns Patrice Evra a leap in our estimations. With the United midfield struggling to justify any level of investment this season, the Frenchman has racked up four goals and five assists and now faces five of the current bottom nine over the next six Gameweeks as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side look to push on at the summit. Jonny Evans is a cheaper alternative but with concerns over his hamstring, we’re leaving him out of the equation for now – Ferguson has hinted Evans is now his first-choice centre-half, though; when fit again, his cheaper price tag could tempt plenty new suitors. Rafael is, of course, the other route to explore – although with European football back on the agenda soon and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones both fit, there could be rotation on the horizon for the Brazilian.
Both Kieran Gibbs and David Luiz slide a little after their double Gameweeks but the pair stay in the top five thanks to their upcoming fixtures. Gibbs’ five assists highlight his attacking potential and while Luiz is handed a stay of execution thanks to his set-pieces and share of spot-kicks, a move back to central defence somewhat dents his appeal. It remains to be seen if Luiz is recalled to a midfield role at Readin and Rafa Benitez’s rest and rotation may force a reassessment of the Chelsea backline situation, with Cesar Azpilicueta staking a strong case as a cheaper alternative. John Terry’s return to the side will, however, put matters in flux once again.
Ben Davies’ 10 point haul against Stoke last weekend has already seen his price rise – nevertheless, a cost of just 4.3 continues to look a bargain ahead of Swansea’s upcoming schedule and plenty more investment can be expected, with the left-back offering the cheapest route into Michael Laudrup’s defence. Joey O’Brien’s return from injury brings the West Ham full-back onto Fantasy radars once more. While Guy Demel is 0.5 cheaper, O’Brien’s points per game average (4.5 to 2.9) highlights their respective displays so far.
Theo Walcott holds firm at the top here. Shifted back to the flank against Chelsea on Sunday, he still produced the goods – the expected return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for tomorrow’s game with West Ham should afford him the chance to move back up front once again. With returns in eight of his last 10, Walcott’s superb form manages to stave off the threat of Juan Mata but there’s not much between them. The Spaniard has now established a seven point gap at the top of the FPL midfield standings – his goal against the Gunners last weekend means he has now scored or assisted in 13 of his last 15 starts. Despite rotation concerns, Mata is firmly established as the weapon of choice amongst the Chelsea attackers, with Eden Hazard becoming a differential by comparison as the Belgian’s ownership continues to drop.
Marouane Fellaini keeps third spot, despite a run of five games without a goal. The Everton man has chipped in with bonus or assists in his last three and welcomes West Brom, Villa and Reading to Goodison in the next five, in addition to a trip to Norwich. Similar to Fellaini, Michu stays in the top five thanks to a kind upcoming schedule – his form has been poor, with just one goal and an assist in the league from Gameweek 17 onwards, but we’re backing him to come good once again with statistics showing that he remains amongst the most threatening midfielders on show, despite his recent drought.
Compared to Walcott and Mata, Gareth Bale has offered little consistency in the premium bracket of late. The Welshman has scored or assisted in just one of his last six appearances – nevertheless, that 21 point haul in Gameweek 19 served a reminder of his explosive qualities. With five sets of double figures to his name, Bale will be hoping to return to form ahead of games against Norwich, West Brom, Newcastle and West Ham in the next four, though there’s no doubt he’s testing the patience.
Steven Gerrard and David Silva both climb, with the Liverpool skipper in a remarkable run of form. A goal or assist in nine of his previous 10 keeps him firmly in our thoughts as the Reds make their way to Arsenal and City, while Silva’s consistency of starts is a selling point as rotation up top at City remains an issue. Santi Cazorla plummets down the rankings with Walcott the preferred Arsenal midfield coverage of many, though the playmaker still has the potential to produce – his assist at the Bridge keeps him in the top five scoring FPL midfielders this season. If you wish to double on Arsenal’s attacking potential, Cazorla will perhaps be preferred to Lukas Podolski up top.
Further down, plenty of mid-price protagonists are vying for our attention due to form and/or fixtures. Jon Walters, Adam Johnson, Adel Taarabt and Joe Cole are all worthy of consideration over the next few for Fantasy managers scouring the market for midfield alternatives.
Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez remain immovable objects at the top of the forward ranking, while Edin Dzeko also keeps his place in the top three. The Bosnian has started each of the last four for City and has scored or assisted in all of those fixtures – at just 7.5, he remains a strong value route into Roberto Mancini’s frontline, despite the permanent threat of rotation.
Steven Fletcher moves to the front of the chasing pack. The Sunderland man has been in superb form of late and has an eye-catching schedule on his agenda – plenty have already snapped up the 7.0 priced Scot this week after his double at the DW on Saturday. Daniel Sturridge’s first league start for Liverpool saw the former Chelsea man continue his run of a goal per game since moving to Merseyside – his mid-price appeal could sway many looking for ways to save budget, with the fixtures falling kindly from Gameweek 26 onwards for Brendan Rodgers’ side. It’s early days but there’s no doubt that continued form from Sturridge and any marked decline in Suarez’s output will shake things up when it comes to considering Liverpool’s attacking assets.
Elsewhere, Demba Ba’s sub role against Arsenal casts doubts over his consistency of game time under Rafa Benitez – his ability to produce is undbouted but Ba looks increasingly likely to be vulnerable from his manager’s rotational whims on every third fixture. Wayne Rooney comes back into the picture after recovering from a knee injury, though Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to bench him at Spurs in favour of Shinji Kagawa is likely to deter many from jumping aboard any bandwagon, with Van Persie’s game time looking far more assured and is returns ridiculously consistent.
The likes of Rickie Lambert and Pavel Pogrebnyak look appealing options for those eyeing up a five man midfield, while Jermain Defoe, Papiss Cisse and Dimitar Berbatov will be hoping to benefit from some kind upcoming fixtures to rebuild their standing with Fantasy managers.